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Page last updated at 16:33 GMT, Wednesday, 30 March 2011 17:33 UK

Rugby World Cup matches moved from Christchurch

A Rugby World Cup advert outside the damaged Christchurch Cathedral
Christchurch was set to host England's opening game against Argentina

England's two Rugby World Cup pool matches originally scheduled for earthquake-hit Christchurch have been moved to Dunedin.

Martin Johnson's side will now play their first three group fixtures - against Argentina, Georgia and Romania - in the South Island city.

Scotland's game with Argentina has been moved from Christchurch to Wellington.

And the Scots' 14 September clash with Georgia has been moved from Dunedin to Invercargill for "operational reasons".

The reshuffle means England will begin their campaign against the Pumas on 10 September in the yet-to-be-completed Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

The venue will feature the world's first transparent roof over a natural playing surface.

We appreciate the patience shown by the teams and fans during this difficult period and are enormously grateful for the support and cooperation of all our partners during what has been a complex process

World Cup chief Bernard Lapasset

Christchurch was hit by an earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter Scale on 22 February, causing structural damage to the stadium and several buildings in the city centre.

The decision to move matches away from the city was taken after stadium operator VBase said it could not guarantee that the extensive repairs required could be completed in time for the tournament in September.

Australia also had two pool matches scheduled for Christchurch - their meeting with Italy has been moved to Auckland and their contest against Russia has been switched to Nelson.

Tournament organisers had already stated that the quarter-final games scheduled for Christchurch would be transferred to Eden Park in Auckland.

Ticket-holders for the Christchurch matches will be offered a refund or the chance to secure seats for the rearranged matches.

Rugby World Cup Ltd chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "Following the difficult decision to transfer the Christchurch matches, all involved have worked hard to confirm the new venues as quickly as possible.

"We are pleased that three of the five matches will remain in the South Island.

"We appreciate the patience shown by the teams and fans during this difficult period and are enormously grateful for the support and cooperation of all our partners during what has been a complex process."

England's team base has been moved from Christchurch to Queenstown.

The Rugby World Cup runs from 9 September to 23 October.

Rescheduled Rugby World Cup matches:

Sat 10 September: Argentina v England, Otago Stadium, Dunedin

Sun 11 September: Australia v Italy, North Harbour Stadium, Auckland

Wed 14 September: Scotland v Georgia, Rugby Park Stadium, Invercargill

Sun 18 September: England v Georgia, Otago Stadium, Dunedin

Sun 25 September: Argentina v Scotland, Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington

Sat 1 October: Australia v Russia, Trafalgar Park, Nelson

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see also
Scots' World Cup venues confirmed
30 Mar 11 |  Scottish
Twickenham to host Crusaders game
15 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Cup to stay in NZ - rugby chief
23 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
Country profile: New Zealand
28 Nov 11 |  Country profiles
Rugby World Cup fixtures and results
26 Sep 11 |  Rugby Union

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